Eskom supplies SA first, then Zimbabwe
Spokesperson says Eskom usually supplies power to Zimbabwe and other countries during off-peak times
Eskom would continue power exports to Zimbabwe and other neighbouring countries in the region - as long as it had surplus electricity available, an official at the South African power utility said on Friday.
Spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe said Eskom usually supplies power to Zimbabwe and other countries during off-peak times, which is usually in the evenings.
"We still supply Zimbabwe and our neighbours when we can, but if there is no surplus electricity and we are faced with a deficit here in SA, we will not be able to sell anything to them. When we don't have enough for SA, then we don't have enough for the region," he said.
"But for the last four days we have not had any load-shedding in SA."
Eskom, which is saddled with R419bn of debt accrued over the past 10 years due to its huge capital build programme, said on Thursday the probability of load-shedding in SA was low until January 13. This is due to businesses and industries shutting down for the festive season and requiring less power.
"However, heavy rains over the December-to-March period could impact coal handling and feeding to the boilers, with a potential impact on generation production," it said in a statement.
The power crunch in SA this month coincided with Zimbabwe experiencing prolonged power cuts, raising speculation that SA's power crisis was spilling over into Zimbabwe, which relies on power imports to supplement its internal supply.
Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority spokesperson Fullard Gwasira did not respond to questions about the increased power cuts since the beginning of the month.
Phasiwe said he could not confirm that there was a direct link between the power cuts in Zimbabwe and the load-shedding to which Eskom resorted earlier this month, and that Zimbabwe's power shortage was likely to have been compounded by repair work being done in Mozambique.
"Zimbabwe also gets power from Mozambique, which has been conducting some repair work at its Cahora Bassa hydropower plant," Phasiwe said.
Zimbabwe has a nonbinding agreement with Eskom for the supply of 300MW of electricity. Last year, Eskom was on the brink of switching off power supplies to Zimbabwe over an outstanding debt of $40m, as the country struggled to find foreign currency to meet its obligations.
Phasiwe said Eskom was pleased with the state of Zimbabwe's account with the utility, but would not reveal the balance owed.
"Zimbabwe has been making payments. You would recall that we received a letter of guarantee from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe last year which said that they would step in if the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority failed to make payments. We do get payments from them and are quite happy with the payments at the moment," he said.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Friday told the annual Zanu-PF people's conference that his administration was in negotiations with Zambia over the Batoka Gorge hydro-electric power station. "It will add 1,200MW to the national grid and those agreements are at an advanced stage."